World AIDS Day – Can transmission of HIV from mother to baby be nipped in the bud?

world aids day

There are two scenarios in which HIV can spread from mother to baby. First is the case when mother discovers the incidence of infection after conceiving. And, second is the case when she is HIV positive and then conceives. In such cases what is more important is to save the baby from getting infected. There were no solutions to this until around a decade back. But, with advancements in the field of medical science, it is now possible to protect the baby from getting infected through antiretroviral (ART) therapy.

There are three ways in which transmission of HIV can happen from mother to baby. It can happen during the pregnancy, at the time of labor and delivery, or during breastfeeding. Pregnant women are prescribed ART medications. These medications reduce the risk of virus from getting transmitted through the placenta.

The probability of transmission of HIV spreading from mother to child also depends on the intensity of the infection, and to the extent, it has affected the mother. The risk of spreading of HIV is low when the infection is detected as early as possible; during pregnancy or before conception. In such cases, treatment is immediately initiated to prevent the virus from spreading or getting transmitted to the baby. The medications given to HIV positive mothers are ART medications of B and C grade that are safe during pregnancy, and no side effects of these have been reported yet.

When the mother is HIV positive, there are chances of the virus getting transmitted to the baby when the birth is through vaginal route. So, in most cases, a cesarean section is done. Babies being born to HIV positive mothers get HIV positive medicine after birth for 4-6 weeks. These medicines reduce the risk of infection from the virus that might have entered the body of the baby during the birth. Mothers are not allowed to breastfeed their children as the infection may spread through breast milk.